Don't miss




New revelations on the role of the French army in the 1960's war in Cameroon

Read more


South Africa : Students injured in clashes with police

Read more


#BadHombres and #NastyWomen

Read more


Trump's talk of rigging : what lasting damage to democracy? (part 2)

Read more


Trump's talk of rigging : what lasting damage to democracy? (part 1)

Read more


Sheltered from the storm? How the UK economy is faring four months post-Brexit

Read more


German authorities struggle with radical Salafist preachers

Read more


DJ duo The Chainsmokers on success, singing and viral videos

Read more


Race to the White House: Trump's family continue to support him

Read more

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.



Latest update : 2014-06-17

Report: Thailand’s military junta wages happiness offensive


Thailand’s generals, who seized power in a military coup in May to end increasingly violent political turmoil, are hell-bent on imposing happiness on the population. FRANCE 24 reports from Bangkok.

After relaxing some of the curfews that threatened Bangkok’s vital tourist trade, and giving the country free access to the football World Cup on terrestrial TV, the country’s soldiers are taking to the streets with a message of joie de vivre.

Several times a week since the coup, the junta has organised large street parties in the capital, complete with free food and medical care, in a bid to win over the population.

"We are very happy,” one reveler told FRANCE 24. “Most Thai people are very satisfied that the army is trying to solve the problem before we have an election. Maybe they'll need a year or a year and a half, but that doesn't matter."

Junta leader’s sentimental ballad

On the streets of Bangkok, there seems to be some genuine optimism and hope for a literal “Return to Happiness in Thailand”, the title of a sentimental ballad written by junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Achieving this happiness is going to be a challenge in the long term, as arrests, censorship and curfews remain a daily reality for most Thais.

Colonel Werachon Sukondhapatipak, spokesman for the junta which titles itself the “National Council for Peace and Order”, told FRANCE 24 that genuine happiness was vital to the generals’ bid to institute meaningful and lasting social reform.

“We want to gain trust and confidence,” he said, explaining that street parties were a way for the army to connect with the people, even the “Red Shirts” movement, which supports ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

“People would not listen to one another in the past. Everything they do is in order to win against each other. But this time we just want to create the atmosphere in which people listen to one another.”

‘Methods worthy of the Gestapo’

FRANCE 24 visited a neighbourhood shopping mall that was a popular zone for the Red Shirts, where happiness and optimism were in short supply.

A bookseller, one of the few traders still present at the mall, told FRANCE 24: “The Thai military can say what they want. These are the methods of dictators. It's not by organizing parties and concerts throughout the country that we are going to solve our problems. People might not be saying anything, but deep in their hearts, they hate the coup."

It’s a sentiment shared by Chuwat Rerksirisuk, Editor-in-Chief of news site Prachatai and a well-known advocate of free speech.

"This is a time bomb,” he said. “The more the junta tries to suppress people's rights, the more anger they will create. This is a strategy of psychological warfare; organizing parties with guns to their heads, and censoring, stopping and controlling everything with methods worthy of the Gestapo."

By Cyril PAYEN



2016-10-20 Germany

German authorities struggle with radical Salafist preachers

Hundreds of young Germans have joined the ranks of the Islamic State group. Many of them were radicalised in Germany by Salafist preachers well known to the authorities. Our team...

Read more

2016-10-19 US Presidential Election 2016

US presidential race: Women voters divided over Trump

US presidential candidate Donald Trump's recent lewd remarks about women have no doubt alienated many female voters. Both he and his rival Hillary Clinton need to get women...

Read more

2016-10-18 China

Chinese authorities clamp down on tiny Jewish community

In China, only five religions are officially recognised by the state and Judaism is not one of them. The eastern city of Kaifeng is home to a tiny Jewish community that dates...

Read more

2016-10-17 France

Video: Parisians wary as first 'shooting gallery' opens

France has opened its first-ever supervised drug injection facility, a safe space for addicts to be able to take their narcotics. The Paris site, based in the north of the city,...

Read more

2016-10-14 humanitarian action

Haiti: Hunger and disease in the wake of Hurricane Matthew

In Haiti, the total number of victims of Hurricane Matthew now stands at over 1,000. Two weeks after the disaster, locals are still facing the consequences. In the absence of...

Read more